Saturday, we arrived at Sault Ste. Marie and spent the afternoon with the Waites. Dan, a pastor of Sault Ste. Marie Free Methodist Church, together with his wife Holly, ministers in this area. We went to a nearby park and while Carmen and Jacob were playing we sat down and visited. Holly and Sarah were on one side of the park and Dan and I were on another. Our exchange was mainly me posing a lot of questions to him. I asked him for the reasons why this FM congregation is growing. He was a little evasive with his answers, but I sensed that he did not want to be labeled into "one category." I understood his concern. But one answer that stood out for me was the church people's ownership of the ministry; the people are starting to feel that church work is their work and not just the pastor's job.
Later that evening we saw a slide show of photos of their 6-month missionary work in the Philippines. Most of the people in the pictures were people I knew. Allan Prochina, among others, was the Waite's host in Cebu. It was encouraging to see some of my childhood past catch up with my present. I pray that this kind of connection will continue--North Michigan and Philippines.
Sunday morning went well. Sarah and I sat in the adult Sunday School class. Eric did a good job. At the service I spoke and shared my talk of "Go and Cross Cultures." After the service, we had a potluck lunch at the fellowship hall. Meet some former FM MKs (missionary kids) whose father was a missionary to Hong Kong and the Philippines, Martin and Gale. She even said that her Dad met me in the Philippines when I was in High School. I do not remember this meeting, but I remember my older sister Ann tell me about an American missionary, Al Gould, stationed in Manila. What a small world! Also, met Dawn, Ryan, Robbie, Sally, Charles, Jim, Alice, Kenny, Nikki and Jacob's little buddy Connor. During the dinner and fellowship time, Dawn came to me and asked some relevant questions. "Why do we have to go to another country when it is much easier to just do missions work in your own?" I told her the simple answer is that because God commanded us to do so. I mentioned to her the practicality of local missions. Less expenses and more results. However, in the long run, global missions has so many more benefits to the local church that they outweigh all the hardships and sacrifices. She totally agreed. I guessed she already knew the answers. She just needed to hear them from a missionary.
In the evening, we went to Boyne City Free Methodist Church. I got to meet Jason, Rachel, Joel and Isaac. Jason is the new pastor of this church. Paul and Mikkie are the Missions Coordinators. They did such a good job. I was amazed at how much preparation this church had done to get to this Sunday's evening mission service. Met Charlotte, Keeley, Bud and Gary. Gary is the artist who sold some of his paintings so the proceeds of this sale could go to missions work. The children donated some money from their cake sale. They also gave us a quilted blanket that the whole children class did all by themselves. It was very touching. Viva, Olga, Charles and some members from the Mancelona FMC also came to join the service. After my talk, Jerry, the pastor of Mancelona church, led in prayer. It was a very encouraging time for all of us.
After the service, we headed out for the hotel in town. We needed to get some rest because tomorrow, I will be traveling to Indianapolis, IN, for a conference (JAKA, Just A Knock Away), while Sarah and the kids will be staying in Big Rapids. Now, I am here in this hotel writing this blog and needing to stop so I can rest for tomorrow's travel. I will be renting a car and driving alone all the way to Indianapolis. Better stop now!